Zoo volunteers give tree wild and woolly makeover

Zoo volunteers give tree wild and woolly makeover (iStockphoto)

Zoo volunteers on the English Riviera have tried their hands at yarn-bombing by decorating a local tree.

The plant at Living Coasts in Torquay has been swathed in colourful yarn, as well as scores of knitted sea creatures hanging from the branches and winding their way around the trunk.

Made by crocheting and knitting, the animals include penguins, Inca terns, whales, sharks, dolphins, octopus and a wide array of different fish.

Visitors who look closely will also be able to spot jellyfish, starfish, seahorses, seals, penguins and even a blue spotted sting-ray.

The ten-year-old rowan tree, which stands tall at the zoo's Penguin Beach enclosure, has also proved to be very intriguing for the centre's resident African and macaroni penguins, who according to staff are loving the new addition to their homes.

Neil Thomas-Childs, volunteer coordinator for Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts, explained that a dozen members of staff from both sites helped to create the colourful collection of knitted and crocheted critters.

"We held drop-in sessions - I provided patterns, wool, biscuits and hot drinks and the volunteers did the rest!" he revealed.

Mr Thomas-Childs went on to say: "This has been a great way to cheer up a cold, grey month. We decided to yarn bomb a tree to highlight the botanical side of the zoo. It is also promoting the idea of volunteering. Knitting is a good activity for the winter, when the volunteers have less to do."

Volunteers at the two charity zoos carry out a wide range of tasks, including assisting staff and supporting visitors, as well as ensure the wellbeing, health and safety of the animals.

Those interested in volunteering at Living Coasts or Paignton Zoo can also look forward to another knitting and crocheting opportunity later in the year too, as Mr Thomas-Childs is encouraging people to donate yarn ahead of a Christmas yarn bombing event.

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